Seemingly overnight, the world has become a different place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The people that Advantage Africa supports are affected by HIV, disability, and albinism and are at great risk. They are vulnerable not just to the disease, but to the impact of restrictions on movement and other activities.
Impact within our partner communities
Thankfully, there have been comparatively few recorded cases of COVID-19 in Uganda or Kenya so far, although a lack of testing means we don’t know the true extent of infection. Both countries have introduced strict measures to control the spread of the virus, including closing borders and schools and introducing night-time curfews and restrictions on social gatherings and the movement of goods. There have also been reports of brutal enforcement of these restrictions by police. Unfortunately both countries are poorly equipped to deal with the pandemic should it take off as it has in countries such as the UK. Their health care systems and water supplies are simply inadequate to deal with a crisis of similar scale. For example, Uganda has only 55 intensive care beds for a population of 45 million people, and most communities do not have access to running water for hand washing.
The majority of Uganda and Kenya's citizens live from day-to-day, and social welfare services aren’t strong enough to support families who are losing their livelihoods due to social distancing. The situation is causing food shortages and extreme price increases for basic goods. People are fearful about the future, and we are gravely concerned for those already living in extreme poverty and facing discrimination due to disability or HIV. Vulnerable people are already going hungry, and there is a very real risk of starvation in the near future.
Advantage Africa is working tirelessly to protect some of the most vulnerable people against COVID-19 and its associated effects as entire populations are ordered to stay at home. Most of our regular projects have been paused to comply with government restrictions, while some are continuing with modifications.
We are supporting our partners to deliver new services in response to the pandemic including:
• Providing accurate information about the virus to educate local people and promote effective hygiene practices to reduce its spread.
• Distributing food and hygiene packages that include maize meal, cooking oil, soap and water containers to families in extreme need.
• Ensuring people living with HIV can access vital anti-retroviral drugs and nutritious food.
• Continuing to provide essential health services, including skin cancer surgery for people with albinism, where there is a higher immediate risk than COVID-19.
• Advocating for people with disabilities and other vulnerable people so they are not overlooked in government responses.
• Shifting community outreach to telephone-based support for the most vulnerable people.
Our UK team is working hard alongside our partners, giving remote support, guidance and up-to-date information to protect vulnerable people from COVID-19 and the additional pressures resulting from it.
How you can help
You can support vulnerable people to overcome their immediate hunger and financial hardship and build their resilience for the future by making a donation to our COVID-19 Appeal below. Thank you for your kind support.
You can also keep up-to-date with our our work by following our Facebook page.